My Choice For Lions HC + One ‘Why Not (ask)?’

Caldwell, Zimmer, Roman, Whisenhunt, and Jay Gruden seem to be the names most connected with the Lions. At this point, Whisenhunt and Caldwell moreso than the rest. Unless you wanna go pie in the sky with Tony Dungy interest based on his comments about the Lions being the best coaching gig available, which may have been a way to somehow connect Caldwell with the job, just as he appointed Caldwell his successor in Indy. 

By the way, I never got to the two I’m most inclined to. But first let’s state the obvious that so many seem to be completely ignoring. As outsiders we can watch college games and other NFL teams and have a more informed and articulate opinion about who we’d like our time to draft or acquire. 

With coaches, our evaluations that form our opinions and wants are not so clear. In fact, with many coaches simply speaking coach-speak, we’re practically in a fog. 

As fans, maybe we ‘know’ a coach and form an opinion on MAYBE 20% of who and what he really is. Without beat writers and columnists having access to meetings, film sessions, weight rooms, and how practices have been closed off more over the years, journalists have MAYBE a 40 or 50% read on who is guy, and what is strengths and weaknesses are, 

Basically, similar to a draft pick, we won’t know for some time if the Lions picked the ‘right’ guy or made the ‘right’ choice. Though the wrong choice may be apparent nearly immediately. 

Whoever they choose to be their next head coach won’t be ‘right’ just because he’s the person that you’d hoped they’d select. Even if he is, we won’t know for some time. 

Also, dampen your expectations. Don’t hope for the guy that’ll help the Lions to the Super Bowl. That’s a sure path for a letdown. The next coach the Lions hire should be able to assure that the Lions are competitive team annually. Born out of that continual success hopefully could be a Super Bowl. Though not always. That’s why Andy Reid is no longer the Philadelphia Eagles head coach. 

Now that the boundaries and expectations have been established, my preference for the Lions next head coach is the Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Greg Roman would be my other interest, but after reading he’d walk across the country for the Penn State job, being an NFL head coach may not be best suited for Roman.

Zimmer overcame the harrowing situation of having his wife die suddenly in October of 2009. Just days after the tragedy, he was back coaching the Bengals with more emotional and moral support than any man in that situation could desire. He is beloved by those he works with and leads. 

Not to say there aren’t those who haven’t overcome more in their lives, but with the way Zimmer handled it with such aplomb, I have to count that as a positive trait when tallying up what makes for a successful NFL head coach. 

A couple other quick notes that have drawn me to Zimmer.

Since becoming DC in Cincy in 2008, Zimmer’s defenses have placed around 11th annually in points allowed. 

The last three years they’ve been 5th, 8th and 9th in ’11.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict was a sure first round pick beginning the 2011 season at Arizona State. After numerous behavioral problems he went undrafted in 2012. Under Zimmer, Burfict’s reputation and play have been galvanized. He had 171 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 TFLs, 8 passes defensed, 1 INT, 1 TD and basically a muffin-topped stat sheet. 

Amid Andy Dalton’s turnover-fest yesterday, Zimmer’s defense performed as well as they could considering the circumstances Dalton’s miscues put them in. 

During the Bengals 9th game against Miami, Geno Atkins, their all-everything interior defensive lineman, was lost for the year. Zimmer’s defense was unwavering allowing just under 20 points per game in the final 7 games in which the Bengals finished out 5-2. 

When’s the last time you heard about trouble and mischief surrounding Pacman Jones?Adam Jones was an integral, and well behaved, part of the Cincy defense this year. More in the register casting Zimmer as someone who truly can thrive amid adversity, as opposed to it just being some inane platitude tossed around like the in-game cliche it’s become. 

Wait, is there’s all this, why isn’t Zimmer a head coach yet?

He’s too honest

The Dolphins didn’t like his candor…yes, the organization where apparently the school bully was more in charge than anyone else. With a GM, Jeff Ireland, people are shocked remains on the job. 

Zimmer also called Bobby Petrino a gutless bastard for riding off in the middle of the night to escape the Michael Vick situation with the Falcons. 

Zimmer’s worked through and lived beyond a tragedy to be wished on the worst of people on this planet, he’s handled problem child players and he’s willing to be blunt?

With the right QB mentor to work with Stafford as OC, or QB coach, Zimmer could be the RIGHT man to lead the Lions back to being a playoff contender, and beyond, every year. 


If you’re steadfast on the Lions hiring a coach primarily with an offensive background, I want to suggest a name that hasn’t been brought up yet, though maybe he should be considered after what we witnessed Saturday night. 

Why not Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton?

Just one year on the job with the Colts, taking over after Bruce Arians departure for Arizona, the entire philosophy of the Colts attack was transformed away from Arians’ bombs away, down the field approach, to Hamilton more conservative, and traditional West Coast offensive attack. 

Hamilton was a QB at Howard, coached there, then begin an ascent through the NFL coaching ranks before leaving his role as Bears QB coach after ’09 to coach WRs under Harbaugh in ’10, then QB/WR coach under Shaw for two years, and then the enormous leap to once again leading his former pupil Andrew Luck.

With Luck on the precipice of being the game’s preeminent quarterback, I can see why Hamilton could be completely content in his role as the Colts OC. Especially if he’s as bright as I think he is, he may want another year in his role, before he knows he’s prepared to be an NFL head coach. Until then, teams thoroughly prospecting for head coaches would be wise to probe Hamilton’s interest in a promotion and his acumen that may well deserve it. 


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